How to Start an NGO in India

Last Updated at: Sep 30, 2021
5 Steps to Start an NGO
Various Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) in India have teamed up with TikTok, the popular short video app, to reach out to their target audience. NGOs have launched campaigns on TikTok to spread awareness about their causes. 


In India, work in the social sector is anchored by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). These organisations are crucial to enabling the poorer classes of society and aspects of our economy that are often neglected by the government. Therefore, it is often said that NGOs do work that a wealthy welfare state would take up. In India, on the other hand, NGOs, more often known as charitable organisations, survive on the donations by wealthier sections of society.

Starting an NGO

One can register an NGO in India under the three acts in India: Indian Trust Act, 1882, Societies Registration Act, 1862 and Companies Act, 2013. However, before considering the registration process, one needs to:
1. Form the mission and vision of NGO. Just as you would for a company, an NGO needs to have goals and a method for achieving those goals.
2. Form a governing body, which is the first step in the start-up process.

Read more about, How to commence an NGO in India.

Forming a Governing Body

A governing body is to be setup. This body will look into the functioning of the NGO and its activities. It will look into matters of financial management, human resources and planning. The governing body will decide on strategies pertaining to fund-raising and management of people, too. Typically, the governing body is most important in an NGO, as an organisation that relies on donations must have a well-respected set of individuals at the helm.

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Trust Deed documentation

Before registering the NGO, the governing body must frame its own bylaws, memorandum of association (in case of Section 8 company) or trust deed, which will contain the name and address of the NGO, details of members, rules and regulations and a set of administrative laws.

Registration of an NGO

An NGO can be registered under three Acts in India, depending upon the modes of operation. Each Act lays down certain laws and regulations to facilitate the management of a non-profit organisation.

One click away to know the pros of registering under 12A and 80G for NGO

Indian Trust Act

Every state in India has different trust acts, and those states without a particular trust Act, are governed by the Indian Trust Act, 1882. NGOs are usually registered under this Act if property is involved (let’s say the building of schools and hospitals). A Trust Deed, with all essential information about financial management and funds collection, is mandatory for registering under Indian Trust Act, 1882.
An application for registration is to be moved. In case of a trust, a form is to be filled and the applicant has to affix a court fee stamp and a nominal registration charge is to be paid which depends upon the value of the property. The application form is to be submitted along with the trust deed.

Societies Registration Act, 1862

The most convenient way of setting up an NGO is through Societies Registration Act, 1860. Section 20 of Societies Act clearly specifies which organisations and societies can be registered under the Act. Registration of an NGO under Societies Act can be done at the state or district level.
A minimum of seven managing committee members is required to form a Society under this Act. These members will be designated as president, vice president, treasurer, director and members.
In the case of society, registration can be done at the state or district level. The procedure varies from state to state, but, usually, the memorandum of association, rules and regulations, consent letter to all the members along with ID proofs, and an affidavit from the president are required.

Visit to our blog for know more about, How to get PAN card for a registered NGO in India.

Indian Companies Act, 2013

An organisation can be registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 ‘for promoting commerce, art, science, religion, charity or any other useful object’. Profits from such an organisation must, however, be used for further development of the company and not be paid as dividend to its members. A minimum of three members (no upper limit) is required and Memorandum of Association is required through which the company will function.
In case of a company, a form is to be filled for availability of name of the company, along with the fee. Once the availability of the name is confirmed, an application is given to the Company Law Board along the memorandum of association, and declaration by an advocate to ensure the memorandum of association complies with the Act. The applicant has to publish an advertisement in two newspapers (one in the regional language and another in an English newspaper) circulated in that district.

Special Licenses

Apart from registration under the three acts, if an NGO wants to open an office in tribal areas or locations which require special permission, or employ foreign nationals, they require a Special Licensing, like the Shop and Establishment Act (for opening an office), inner line permit (for offices in Tribal and restricted areas), FCRA registration and a no-objection certificate, with work visa (for employing foreign nationals).
Also, any Foreign Nationals or International NGO setting up an office in India needs special permission from the Reserve Bank of India and a no-objection certificate before registration under any one of the above mentioned acts.
Also, if an NGO wants tax exemption, they have to file an application along with their annual report to acquire 80G certification.

A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.